His passenger 22-year-old Tyler Godwin was treated at a Raleigh hospital.
Ellis was the son of former state Rep. Sam Ellis. Ellis represented Wake County and served in the General Assembly for six terms, through 2004.
The younger Ellis was a junior at East Carolina University. Sam Ellis said his son had been at a beach music festival Saturday but didn't know why he was traveling near Clayton at the time of the wreck.
Troopers say alcohol was a factor in the crash. The accident remains under investigation.